Ashley in Guadeloupe – Caribbean Chess Tour of a GM

by ChessBase
11/28/2011 – GM Maurice Ashley, who in 1999 was the first African-American to attain the coveted title of International grandmaster of chess, has become an ambassador of the game. On his Caribbean Chess Tour, after visiting Martinique, he went on the incredible tropical island of Guadeloupe – and found a similar amount of enthusiasm for the game there. Here is his pictorial report on the trip.

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Caribbean Chess Tour: Guadeloupe

By GM Maurice Ashley

The island of Guadeloupe, the second stop on my Caribbean Chess Tour, is a visual feast for the eyes. Although I had been there before, it had been to play in a multi-round a day chess tournament, which, as any chess player knows, is the last way to really see a place. This time I was there to bring chess and technology to kids on the island as well as spend a day exploring the countryside. The diverse assortment of colors everywhere one looks is so stimulating that it’s easy to see why the island has the nickname “The Emerald Island.”

Guadeloupe is on of the islands on the right – Click here to explore the region on a larger map

Guadeloupe, like Martinique, is a part of France, and hence a part of the European Union. Christopher Columbus happened upon the island and its inhabitants as part of his second voyage to the Americas. In the ensuing decades, the country was fought over by the French and the British, eventually going to the French, who agreed to cede control of all their holdings in Canada only on the condition that they were allowed to keep Guadeloupe! The island would continue to change hands several times, even once being owned by Sweden, before finally being settled as a French colony in 1815 with the Treaty of Vienna.

How many chess offices in the world have this kind of view from their windows?

Guadeloupeans take great pride in their art and culture. Among their many writers and poets, they boast a Nobel prize winning laureate (Saint-John Perse), and among their musical giants they are most proud of Franky Vincent, whose pleasant strain of “zouk musique” can often be, shall we say, somewhat inappropriate for the ears of children. Guadeloupe also has a strong sports tradition. World famous football (soccer) star Thierry Henry’s father is from the island, and Michael Petrus (basketball) and Marie Jose-Perec (triple Olympic champion) were both born in Guadeloupe.

Maurice Ashley in his element: with enthusiastic school kids from Guadaloupe

A simul with overhead fans – a trademark of the tropics

My two chess days there were spent meeting kids from various schools. After my trip to Martinique, my college French was finally starting to kick into gear, and I even managed to conduct entire sessions in French (with a lot of help, of course!).

The kind of attention a GM chess lecture held in college French gets in Guadaloupe

The view from the school

While chess is not yet huge on the island, the way I was received seems to be a clear indication that the children there would absolutely love to play the game regularly if it were shown to them in a consistent way. Of course, the usual funding problems and the uncertainty of the educational leaders to embrace chess make it difficult for the chess federation to gain a substantial footing in many schools.

One of my simul games finished with “une petite combinaison”:

Ashley,Maurice (2452) - Gardet,Thomas (1520) [B87]
Simultanée Pointe à Pitre Hoogeveen, 06.11.2011
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Bc4 b5 8.Bb3 Be7 9.Qe2 Nbd7 10.Bxe6 0-0 11.Bb3 Bb7 12.Nf5 Nc5 13.0-0-0 b4 14.Bxf6 Bxf6 15.Rxd6 Nxb3+ 16.axb3 Bg5+ 17.Kb1 Qe8 18.Nd5 Bxd5 19.Rxd5 Bd8 20.Rhd1 Bc7 21.Rd7 Be5 22.Re7 Qb8 23.Rdd7 Bf6

24.Qg4 Qxh2 25.e5 Bxe5 26.Qe4 Bf6 27.Rxf7 Rae8 28.Rxf6 gxf6 29.Qg4+ and with 29...Kh8 30.Qg4# to follow. 1-0.

My last day was spent visiting the Rum Museum, one of the most famous tourist attractions on the island. Rum, as one can imagine, is a very important export for Guadeloupe; there is even a quadrennial yacht race called the Route de Rhum that begins in France and ends in the Guadeloupean harbor at the capital of Pointe-a-Pitre. Good thing I am not someone who drinks because it is very easy to watch all your money disappear at such a place!

The word museum is a misnomer because in addition to the area where rum is made there is also a vast expanse of countryside with sloping undulating hills and majestic postcard scenery. One could spend a whole day walking and hiking and not cover the whole ground.

Exploring the region with Olivier

Find your own shade, buddy – this here is mine!

Cows in the paintings on street walls

Wall painting of a women shearing sheep

The tour is facilitated by a ride on a most conspicuous train, one that would have been more likely found in Disneyworld than in a rum museum!

The almost empty beach in Guadaloupe

Like Martinique, Guadeloupe is one of those places where, as soon as you leave, you are already thinking about returning. The beautiful countryside, the music, and the people make it an easy choice for a relaxing vacation.

Recent DVD by Maurice Ashley

Many times, when a top player blunders, it is routinely described by the esoteric term “chess blindness“. In this series What Grandmasters Don‘t See, chess trainer and worldclass commentator Maurice Ashley strips away the myth and for the first time explains why the root of these mistakes is more often based in the psychology of human learning.

In this DVD, Volume 2 of the three part series, Ashley shows that no other standard tactical theme is more over-rated, overlooked and misunderstood than the Discovered Attack. In each example, Ashley illustrates how often players are confused by discovered attacks because the examples in the majority of chess books are poorly chosen to show how this important tactical idea really works in most practical games.

In the first half of the DVD, Ashley uses interesting and entertaining positions to explain the points in his trademark effervescent style. The second half of the DVD is filled with examples to test what you have learned about discovered attacks, with a series of exercises of increasing difficulty. The material is drawn both from classic and from recent games. Video running time: 3 hours 36 minutes.

Sample video

Some previous ChessBase articles on Maurice Ashley

Ashley in Martinique – GM bearing gifts
23.11.2011 – In 1999 Maurice Ashley was the first African-American to attain the coveted title of International Grandmaster of Chess, and he has become an ambassador of the game, especially in the Caribbean area. Recently he embarked on a Caribbean Chess Tour, where his first stop was Martinique. He motivated local school children with simultaneous games and gifts from the ChessBase shop.
Maurice Ashley: What Grandmasters Don't See
21.10.2011 – "Maurice Ashley scores again as favorite teacher with this DVD," writes Steven Dowd. "Ashley teaches with a entertainingly fast pace, is quick to crack a good joke, and simply relates well to the audience. If there really were a ChessBase University, Ashley would be a candidate for teacher of the year, and would be my hands-down choice to win." Review in Chess Cafe.
Maurice Ashley rounds up Bilbao today!
08.10.2011 – This afternoon from New York, at 4 PM EST and 10 PM Paris, the dynamic and popular commentator GM Maurice Ashley will be the guest host of the Bilbao round up show on Playchess, where he will not only summarize the action of the day, but he will also take questions from the spectators. This show is free for Premium subscribers so consider upgrading if you haven't already. Don't miss it!
Belize: painted faces and chess on stilts
30.06.2011 – The Central American nation, south of Mexico, has a population of just 333,000. But in this country, with its spectacular abundance of terrestrial and marine species, chess has become a national passtime. Last May the best players from each district throughout Belize met for what they call a "Chess Olympiad". A special guest at the event, GM Maurice Ashley, sent us this beautiful pictorial report.
Final round in Monaco starts at 12:30 p.m.
24.03.2011 – We don't want you to miss a minute of it: so for your information on the final day of the 20th Amber Blindfold and Rapid tournament play begins two hours earlier than usual – at 12:30 p.m. CET instead of 14:30. While you are waiting, or in the pauses between the games, you might want to watch commentary by GMs Maurice Ashley and Daniel King in previous rounds. All on Playchess.
Ashley: 'Chess is intellectual karate!'
16.11.2010 – Maurice Ashley is a US grandmaster, commentator and teacher, one of the best in the world. He is also the author of one of our most popular Fritz Trainers ("Aikido chess"). In a remarkable 24-minute "Big Think" interview – of the very highest technical quality, we may add – Maurice gives us insights into his career and his chess thinking. Very revealing, very entertaining – must watch.
Ashley’s Secret: Aikido Chess!
20.10.2010 – American GM Maurice Ashley is one of the games premier commentators. He has authored books, traveled the world promoting the virtues of chess and has recently released a DVD in partnership with ChessBase. It offers a new and general strategy: look for what your opponents last move did that actually hurt his position. Review by Michael Jeffreys.
Maurice Ashley: The Secret to Chess
08.10.2010 – Since going into a self-imposed hiatus from tournament chess, GM Maurice Ashley has not rested on his laurels as arguably one of the game's premier commentators. He has authored a couple of books, traveled the world promoting the virtues of chess and has recently released another DVD in partnership with ChessBase. Review in Chess Drum.
Magnus pounds The World in RAW Chess Challenge
12.09.2010 – It was the chess spectacle of the year. Tens of thousands of spectators joined three strong grandmasters to play the world's highest ranked player Magnus Carlsen. The event took place in a penthouse overlooking New York City, with GMs Maurice Ashley and Garry Kasparov commenting, and Hollywood actress Liv Tyler dropping in. We bring you pictures and the annotated game.
Maurice Ashley: The Secret to Chess
02.09.2010 – This is one you really do not want to miss. Star international trainer and commentator Maurice Ashley reveals a secret he discovered on his way to becoming a chess grandmaster. It is a simple idea that anyone can understand – something that you can use immediately to improve your game. Maurice's entertaining style and great clarity make this a first class DVD. Here's a sample lesson.
Ashley on CNN: 'I just knew I would be a great chess player'
10.07.2008 – Maurice Ashley is the first black chess grandmaster in history. He is also one of the games finest ambassadors, an ardent spokesman and advocate of the intellectual and character building effects in young people for over 15 years. In a short CNN report, part of the series on "Black in America", he speaks about the driving forces in his life and his career. We bring you Maurice unsquished.
Maurice Ashley on Hip Hop, GZA and Will Smith
08.07.2006 – He is the first black grandmaster in history, and also an extraordinary chess teacher, an organiser and a friend of the stars. In this indepth interview by Adisa Banjoko, the "Bishop of Hip Hop", Maurice Ashley tells about his life, his likes and his encounters with GZA and Will Smith. Fascinating stuff.


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